A software-defined radio (SDR) is a wireless communication system whose functionality can be configured using software or programmable hardware. Traditional radio transmitters and receivers can usually send and receive a single type of signal. Software-defined radios are more versatile. Using different software configurations, SDR hardware can communicate at different frequencies using multiple wireless standards such as Bluetooth, FM radio, Wi-Fi, GPS, and LTE technology.
A software-defined radio has a significant portion of the system defined in software. This has several advantages: ease of development, flexibility in reconfiguration, and cost effectiveness. SDRs typically consist of an RF front end (transmitter or receiver) with an analog-to-digital or digital-to-analog converter. A general-purpose computer or reconfigurable hardware (e.g., FPGA) is used with the SDR for baseband signal processing.
An optimal workflow for developing SDRs involves designing and verifying the system in a single development environment. SDR hardware can be incorporated into your design in two ways:
For more information, see Communications System Toolbox™ (with hardware support packages that connect wireless communication algorithms with supported SDR platforms) and HDL Coder™ (which generates HDL code for FPGAs), both for use with MATLAB® and Simulink®.